Vino sfuso, literally wine from the cask or demijohn, is a delicious staple in the Italian diet. Daily, families take their empty bottles down to the local cantina for a refill of their preferred grape.
Throughout history, wine and beer were consumed by all, as it was often safer than drinking water. Your enemies could easily poison the water supply you know! Drink vino (wine) instead! Table wine usually hovers around the eleven percent alcohol level, making it light enough for lunch. In Venice, each neighborhood has at least one cantina to choose from. These are genuine local businesses that do not cater to tourists. So, be prepared to practice your Italian and pay in cash.
In each region of the country, you will find this type of shop. It’s usually conveniently located near the butcher or baker. Regionalism is a predominant cultural element.
What is vino sfuso? Translated word for word: “loose wine” (no, no, not “promiscuous”… “unpackaged” ). More properly defined: bulk wine, dream come true, wine on tap, wine from the cask (the barrel or container where wine is fermented, matured, stored or shipped).
Nave d'Oro, Canareggio.
As already noted the Nave d'Oro Vino Sfuso shops are quite widespread in Venice although they seem to be owned by different members of the same family and others. This one is a particularly nice one advertising Torbolino (the new partially-fermented sweet red wine) and exceptionally Frizzante wines.
Raboso is a red winegrape grown primarily in the eastern part of Veneto. It is also called Raboso Piave, from the name of a river near where it is grown. It produces deep-colored wine, with notably high levels of tannin and medium alcohol content and high acid. The name raboxo in the native Venetian language means "angry", because angry is the sensation in the mouth when this wine is drunk young. Raboso was in the past the most cultivated grape variety of eastern Veneto; Venetian navigators called it vin de viajo, "wine of travel", because it was the most resistant to aging and transport. Its popularity decreased in the 20th century, and today the vineyards of Raboxo are just 1–2% of the total amount of vineyards in Veneto.
Verduzzo (or Verduzzo Friulano) is a white Italian winegrape grown predominantly in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of northeast Italy. It is also found in significant plantings in the PiaveDenominazione di origine controllata (DOC) of the Veneto region, though some of these plantings may be of the separate Verduzzo Trevigiano variety. Verduzzo Friulano is used in varietal and blended wines, many of which fall under DOC as well as vino da tavola designations, that range in style from dry to late harvest wines. According to wine expert Oz Clarke, most of the sweeter examples of Verduzzo can be found in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia with the grape being used for progressively drier styles of the wine the further west into the Veneto.
Miraculously, corners of Venice remain unchanged by the tourism that bustles through most of the city. At the end of Via Garibaldi, moored on the canalside, is one of the last fruit and vegetable boats in town, and right in front of it, with its ancient hand-painted sign, is the venerable Trattoria Alla Rampa. Life starts early for the working men living around here, so the Rampa opens at 4.50am. The bar is run by Fabio Fontebasso, while his sister, Fabie, cooks an ever-changing menu of Venetian dishes using fresh, seasonal products. Lunch is served in a rustic dining room at the back, and from 12pm to 12.45pm there is a €13 menu’operai, a fixed worker’s menu of pasta, main course, wine and coffee. “If there is space,” says Fabie, “then tourists can sit down and order too, but normally it is packed out and a second a la carte service begins at 1pm.” Specialities include a delicious zuppa di pesce, spaghetti alle vongole, risi e bisi (Venetian rice and peas) and seppie in tecia (squid cooked in its own black ink served on a bed of polenta).
This old-fashioned trattoria is a Venetian institution that has been serving delicious traditional dishes at affordable prices since it opened in 1965. It is packed to bursting every lunchtime with a noisy mix of workers in overalls, students from the nearby architecture faculty and curious tourists; you can sit inside the cosy oak-beamed dining room or grab a waterside table and watch boats pass by on the busy Canale di Cannaregio. This neighborhood used to be the site of Venice’s abbatoir, and Marisa made a reputation for nose-to-tail cuisine with dishes such as risotto con le secoe, using beef bone marrow. Today, her daughter Wanda runs the kitchen, still making favorites such as tripe stew, but also rich ragu sauces and tasty roast rabbit. The lunchtime menu is dominated by meat, and for €15 you can feast off a steaming plate of pasta, one of the dishes of the day, vegetables, wine and coffee. At night, the speciality is seafood, though expect to pay around €35 a head.
•Fondamenta di San Giobbe 652B, Cannaregio, +39 041 720211, open every lunchtime, Thu-Sat evening by reservation
Venice's most Popular Bacaro
"Venetian Wine Bar"
Talking about Bacaro in Venice, this "Alla Vedova" is the best!
Venice, the town of water is a unique place in the world. Transportation of the town is only by boats and there is no car running. The Canal Grande, the splendid palaces of Venetian architecture, trails called Calle and canals, tunnels called sottoportego... a fantastic labyrinth-like town.
Such a unique Venetian culture influenced also their cuisine. Bacaro is a local wine bar where the locals relax and enjoy eating snacks called Cichetti. They are looking forward to chatting with friends at night. The most famous one of the many Venetian Bacaros is here "Trattoria Ca' D'Oro "Alla Vedova".
The basic style of a Bacaro is drinking wine with Cichetti (snacks) standing. But like many Bacaros here "Alla Vedova" has lots of seating as well, so you can eat at table like a normal restaurant. The price is also affordable. Please try a Bacaro tour if you go to Venice.
Reservations are required for dinner. For lunch, let's try to visit earlier or later!
This "Alla Vedova" is always very crowded. That would be its only defect. For dinner it's impossible to enter without reservations. Also for lunch it's better to make a reservation, or you can go earlier or around 14.00 (opening or closing time). Every time, in front of the restaurant full of customers are waiting for seats. While waiting, let's enjoy aperitif. Order local white wine with Cichetti and wait patiently.
Even if you make a reservation, the capacity is same so it's not suitable for those who want to eat slowly and quietly...
Inside is a typical Italian Trattoria!
The official name of this restaurant is "Trattoria Ca' D'Oro". It's located just in two minutes by walk from the Vaporetto stop "Ca' D'Oro". And "Alla Vedova" means "widow". That's because since the death of the father of current owner and his mother became a widow, local regulars started to call here "a trattoria of a widow"...
On the wall many pictures, photographs and even copper pots are hung from the ceiling. They are very pretty! You can enjoy a relaxed atmosphere. Simple wooden tables and chairs are pleasant and instead of the tablecloths, paper cloths are used. It's like a popular dining room. I feel this style is also nice.
It's popular because of delicious dishes!
Why the locals love this trattoria so much? Because it's simply "delicious". "The seafood appetizer platter" is simple but prepared with fine care. Many plates of this restaurant are a little bit smaller than other places. In Italy it's normal to share a plate of appetizers (generally very big). Here there are 2 sizes. "Small plate" of 9 euros wouldn't enough to divide in two people... so let's order "Large (18 euros)".
Bigoli, Spaghetti with squid ink sauce, Scampi...
Also the pasta dishes are excellent!!! I frequented every day and tried three types of pasta. All were tasty. First, a traditional Venetian cuisine "Bigoli in Salsa". That is thick spaghetti in a simple source of onion and anchovy sauce. It's a rustic dish of traditional taste.
Talking about Venetian spaghetti, everyone would like to try "Spaghetti with squid ink sauce (Bavette al nero di seppia)". It's also exceptional. The noodles boiled al dente are suitable to smooth tasty sauce of squid ink. It's aromatic and satisfying.
"Spaghetti with scampi (Spaghetti alla busera)" has an exquisite harmony of fresh tomato sauce with hot pepper and scampi. In the mouth the sweetness of shrimps will spread.
Bar & Dining Room
Venetian Buckwheat Pasta
With Anchovy Sauce
Across the iconic Rialto bridge, on the other side of the Grand Canal and tucked down an alleyway, is tiny All' Arco (Calle Arco, San Polo 436, lunchtime only). On a Saturday lunchtime this friendly bacaro was heaving with shoppers from the nearby Rialto market, which sells a stunning selection of fresh fish and remains a favorite meeting place for Venetians. Plates of cicheti on the bar – langoustines, calamari, liver, speck and prawns, all served on slices of bread – were tasty enough, but what the owner Francesco Pinto was preparing behind it looked even more appetising. The hot sandwich of boiled beef sausages (which, he gesticulated, are made from the meat in the cow's head) served with mustard was the perfect winter comfort food.
Cantina d' Vino gia Schiava
Thanks to the quantity, variety, and quality of its cichetti and wines and its location, the bacaro “Cantine del Vino già Schiavi” is a known bacaro in Venice and the most popular among students also due to its proximity to the university. The nice and traditional bacaro looks, the great selection of typical as well as original and creative cichetti, the good wines, its position on a fondamenta and the view if offers on one of the last squeri (gondola-making place) make this our favorite bacaro in the Dorsoduro district.
Opposite Cantinone–già Schiavi (992 Ponte San Trovaso), located on a canal in Dorsoduro, is another symbol of disappearing Venice: one of the city's last gondola workshops. Schiavi is really a wine shop that sells food on the side – although the cheese and fennel crostini were delicious. The walls are covered floor to ceiling by bottles, and there is a fantastic choice of 10 or so wines by the glass, mostly from the Veneto region, starting at €2. That, I noted, was the same price as the house, so I made a pest of myself and started to work through the labels (well, the glasses are tiny).
Venice is notorious for its lack of nightlife, but a good place to end a bar crawl is Campo Santa Margarita, the hangout for local and international students. Ai Do Draghi, at the north end of the square and known as the red house as much for its political leaning as for the colour of the facade, was swarming when I arrived. Like me, the cicheti were looking a little tired and dog-eared by late evening, so I ended the night with their excellent spritz, the classic Venetian cocktail (whose recipe Norman admits to nicking for Polpo).
Al Squero is the only Osteria in Venice exactly in front of the Ancient Squero of San Trovaso. There is no other place where appreciating from its window the construction or restoration of original Venetian gondolas. It is a cozy and comfortable place where you can share with friends a glass of Italian wine and taste an appetizing “cicchetto” at a small price. The selection of wines you can taste or buy at Al Squero comes from small regional wine firms of Friuli, Trentino-Alto Adige and Veneto, so that it is guaranteed unique care at the quality and distinctiveness of their products.
Caffe Florian's was a favorite of Giacomo Casanova where he began many a Seduction over the years. Caffe Florian opened its door in 1720 and has been werving the citizens of Venice and the World ever since.
Caffe Florian has seen the likes of : Napoleon Boanaparte, Winston Churchill, Maria Callas, Aristotle Onassis, Jackie Kennedy, George Clooney, Jude Law, Gwyneth Palthrow, Matt Damon, Ernest Hemingway, Kings, Queens, Princes & Princesses, US Presidents, Heads of State, writers, artist, Film Makers, Movie Stars, tourists, and the people of the World in its almost 300 years of operation, serving, Espresso, Cappuccino (Coffee), Wine, Tea, Prosecco, Campari Aperol, Sndwiches, and Sweet Treats. Have you been there? Casanova has, and if you haven't been, no trip to Venice is complete without at least one or more visits to this historical spot.
"Drink where CASANOVA Drank"
Calle Spade, San Polo, Venice
One of the most ancient Venetian osterie, the Cantina Do Spade is only a few steps away from the Rialto Bridge. This Bacaro offers a variety of cicheti: small typically Venetian snacks like fried squid rings, Meatballs, Mozzarella in Carrozza, Baccala Mantecato etc. Here our friendly staff and atmosphere will make you feel at home, but with the opportunity to taste fine and fresh food.
Inside Do SPADE
Trattoria Poste Vecie
A 500 Year Old Restaurant where Casanova dined at !
In the fish market area, in Campo delle Beccarie, there is Trattoria Poste Vecie, a restaurant opened since 1500, where Casanova used to hide away with friends and especially girl friends to enjoy luxurious banquets. The whole area of St. Mark’s Square and especially the old premises, starting from Caffè Florian, have been hunting grounds of the great seducer.
Giacomo Casanova was born in Venice on 2 April 1725, the eldest son of a Spaniard Gaetan-Joseph-Jacques Casanova and his Italian wife Zanetti Farusi, both actors. His father died when he was around nine or ten and his mother continued traveling with her acting troupe, leaving her six young children as always with their maternal grandmother Marzia Farusi; Casanova and his siblings don’t seem to have had much of a relationship with their mother then or later in life. Casanova describes himself as having being ‘a vegetable’ until the age of eight, by which we should infer nothing much interesting or eventful happened in his early growing years. However he did begin his education and showed himself to be an unusually bright young fellow. Not bright enough to have developed a complete understanding of himself as yet though. His first choice of a career, funnily enough, was Priesthood – even in an era when nobody was particularly chaste or saintly, he would have been a real disaster in that role. Fortunately for him, his roving eye ruined this prospect before it even began and, never the one to be cast down by anything for very long, he shrugged, studied Law instead, and let himself loose on the secular world next.
For the rest of his life, Casanova was to remain, what can only be described as, a Jack of all Trades – and Master enough of himself to get out of all the sticky situations that these Trades invariably got him into. He developed into a real tolerant, open-minded individual – he usually refrained from pointing fingers at other people’s morals and never hesitated in giving them plenty of reasons to be sniping about his in turn – if they sniped too much and too loud, he was always forward in inviting them to duel – and he was rarely the one to be carried off the field with many wounds to lick. He made time for practically all the fools he came across – to fleece them for all they were worth – and for most of the women and girls that crossed his path. He nearly married on several occasions, but last minute escapes prevailed every time. On one occasion he almost married his own illegitimate daughter – he had several illegitimate children that he either never heard of or came to hear of, like on this occasion, a mite later in life. Certainly though, he never worried his head too much about them. But then he wasn’t prone to worrying too much about anything. This perhaps was the main ingredient of his carefree existence. If one thing doesn’t work, well, never mind, let’s move on to something else, let’s see what’s around the next bend. And if it was necessary to bend a bit to get around the bend, hey, no problemo whatsoevero, in this life of ours some adjustment is always necessary.
Casanova’s talent for adjustment saw him traveling widely – Florence, Italy, Spain, Russia, Poland, Germany, England, France, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, Austria, Turkey – and coming into contact with a wide spectrum of society, from peasant-folk to city thugs to ordinary middle-class people to the very rich and affluent to the aristocrats and royalty. He had close social contacts with the King of France, with Catherine The Great of Russia, with George III of England, with Frederick The Great of Prussia, with Joseph II of Austria, with Benedict XII in Rome, with the French thinkers Voltaire, Rousseau, d’Alembert, Crebillon, and many other eminent personalities of the day. He also found himself a prisoner of the Inquisition in Venice’s notorious Piombi prison for 15 months – for expressing his personal opinions on religion and morality a little too publicly – he would probably have languished there forever except for his irrepressible spirit – after one failed bid to escape, he tried again and his hair-raising second attempt was a success. Unlike one of our modern heroes, Casanova doesn’t appear to have suffered from much post traumatic stress as a result of this ordeal. He dusted himself off and coolly went back to the business of living. He always took care to live particularly well, with good food, clothes, and lodging. He made a great deal of money from his various schemes and lost it all rather quickly. The concept of saving was just beyond him.
Some twenty years later, needing money, he was back in Venice, opportunistically seeking employment with the very people that had once arrested him. It seems they were as prepared to be forgiving and he worked for them as a Secret Agent from 1774 to 1782. Then he left Venice for the last time and went to Paris. Here he met Count Waldstein who invited him to come live on his property, the Chateau Dux, in Bohemia and work there as a Librarian. Quite a career change, but perhaps a little peace and quiet was just what Casanova was looking for. He accepted and spent the next fourteen years at Dux.
It wasn’t demanding work and gave him ample time for intellectual pursuits of his own – aside from his memoirs, on which he worked diligently, he wrote on Mathematics, Philosophy, Grammar, Poetry, Short Stories, Plays, and so on. He also maintained a voluminous correspondence with friends, acquaintances, and former lovers. Age didn’t in any way diminish his general enthusiasm. Just prior to his death – on 4 June 1798 – he was described by the Prince de Ligny as: “At 73, no longer a god in the garden or a satyr in the forest, he is a wolf at table.”